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TCU Parent & Family Update- Pre-Orientation 2020


CONGRATULATIONS to your student for being selected as a member of the TCU Class of 2024!  I know you are very proud of his/her outstanding accomplishment!  What an exciting time it is in the life of your family!  Whether your first or fifth student is attending college/ TCU, it is the first time for THIS son or daughter.

Get a cup of coffee, soda, or a glass of wine and sit down to read the following information.  This letter is lengthy because I know many things that are on your mind.  Hopefully, most topics on your mind will be addressed here.

This year is a bit strange, like I need to tell you.  We are accustomed to students, parents, and family members attending orientation concurrently.  This year was very different.  In order to prepare to provide two comprehensive orientation experiences on-line, we had to prioritize the student experience first.  I am confident you had questions throughout your student’s orientation experience, either going through the modules and/or during advising and enrollment for class.  Hopefully, at the conclusion of your orientation experience, most, if not all of your questions will be answered and some concerns relieved.

The Parent & Family Orientation Program will be emailed to you between July 13 and 15!  It will be emailed to you!  If you do not receive it, it will be posted on TCU Parent & Family Facebook page.  That page is the one where WE post information for you to know.

PLEASE watch each module!  You do not have to watch the program in one sitting, but please make it a priority in the next few days.  Should you want to refer back to information later in the year, you will know exactly where to find it.  We will schedule several Q & A webinars at the end of July and early in August.  They will be more helpful to you if you have participated in learning the on-line material.

I am keeping my fingers crossed we may have the opportunity to meet in August.  My plan is that we can have a face-to-face connection on the day your student moves into his/her residence hall.  Keep your fingers crossed!!!  More information on this topic will come closer to your move-in date!

The main reason Parent & Family Orientation is so very important is because the education of your son/daughter is a shared responsibility between the student, the university, and you.  It is our goal, after Orientation, you will be confident in TCU and how we see our role, and therefore, you will feel comfortable encouraging your student to navigate answers/solutions on his/her own.

There are some topics that will be covered in the on-line orientation program to which I want to add emphasis.

  • Tuition Refund Plan. TCU wants to be certain your student has an opportunity to protect your family’s financial commitment in case of illness or accident. In an effort to minimize any potential financial loss, TCU has arranged with A.W.G. Dewar, Inc. to provide an insurance program that will reimburse the student if medical problems (physical or mental) require withdrawal from school before a semester ends. This Insurance plan provides coverage for tuition charges.Participation in the Tuition Refund Plan represents a contract between the student and A.W.G. Dewar, Inc. Students are assured, in most cases, of an 80% refund of tuition throughout the semester even after the University’s refund schedule has expired. (Room & board are pro-rated by the university.)Undergraduate students are automatically enrolled in the Tuition Refund Plan for the fall and spring semesters. The $180.00/semester charge for the Plan will be included in the first bill of each fall and spring semester. Students who do not wish to participate in the Tuition Refund Plan can opt-out of the Plan by waiving coverage through the online Tuition Refund Plan waiver process. Even though you may choose for your student to waive coverage by opting out of the plan, we urge you to carefully consider the suitability of the Tuition Refund Plan for your family since University refunds due to medical withdrawals are not processed by TCU outside of the University’s standard refund policy.

    If you have questions about the Tuition Refund Plan, you may contact A.W.G Dewar, Inc. at (617) 774-1555.

**My personal opinion
is unless your student receives an email from the Financial Aid office, stating it is not necessary for your student (based on scholarship status), he/she should NOT waive the insurance!  For $180/semester, your student’s semester tuition ($25,785) is protected should he/she have to withdraw from school for medical reasons.  No one ever expects to need it.  But every semester a double-digit number of students do.  A word to the wise!

  • TCU Health Insurance requirements will be discussed as part of the Parent & Family Orientation.  The information provided will help you know which coverage is best for your student, your current family’s coverage or the plan provided by the university.  Either way, a health insurance plan is required.  If you would like to read about the health insurance requirement and/or the TCU Health Insurance plan, you may do so at

*TCU Health Services are available to ALL TCU STUDENTS regardless of insurance!*

  • Students with Disabilities:  If your student has received accommodations for learning differences, PLEASE DO NOT allow him/her to say, “Now that I am going to college, I won’t need my accommodations!”  I meet 3 or 4 students every fall, who arrive in my office performing far below their expectations.  It takes only a couple of sentences for me to ask, “Did you have accommodations in high school?”  “Yes, but now that I am in college, I didn’t think I would need them.”  This attitude can cost a good student a semester of failure, or even worst an unsalvageable GPA needed to maintain an important scholarship!The Student Access & Accommodation Office is currently receiving documentation for the fall semester.  Check their website or contact their office with questions.   817.257.6567

A few more important subjects:

When students arrive:

As much as we all wish we had a magic ball into which we could see pictures of our future, we do not have one.  Even though it feels like your student is leaving for college tomorrow, it is still 5 weeks and some days before students are expected on campus.  SO MUCH can happen before then.  As we get closer to the date, students will receive more information about what to expect when they arrive.  Also, you may check this website,  for updates as they are available.

Online Classes:

You may have heard parents who had students on campus spring semester lament that on-line didn’t compare to in-person.  Last spring, faculty had one week to move everything they do in-person to an on-line platform.  For many professors learning all the details involved was completely overwhelming, especially in one week’s time.

This summer, faculty have participated in numerous workshops to learn all the options available for attention-grabbing, highly engaged learning.  They are very excited about the options.  This fall, some faculty have chosen to teach all classes on-line.  Some are teaching in-person but will provide an online option if they have a student who is immune-compromised and will still be present in the class.  All faculty will be prepared to go on-line should the medical situation in Texas/Fort Worth/TCU require it.

While we completely value the in-person experiences with students (ALWAYS OUR FIRST CHOICE!), the online experience should be very satisfying for students.  I have heard some reports from students in summer school; all of which were extremely positive.

You may read more about what to expect this fall by reading the website, .  There are 4 specific areas I encourage you to read.

Section 1: A holistic look at TCU program offerings and discuss how college teams, led by the deans, will extend TCU’s connected campus curricular and co-curricular student experiences across virtual domains.

Section 2:  A description of professional development and ongoing support for instructors redesigning courses to maximize students’ self-efficacy in their ability to learn across campus and virtual domains.

Section 3: An illustration of course designs that facilitate preserving TCU’s high-quality, personalized curricular experiences across virtual domains.

Section 4: Approaches for starting the fall semester.

Another change this year is in regard to Frog Camp.  Historically, our Frog Camp program has maintained about 80% participation in this voluntary activity.  This year, the format is different, and will be great fun!  Students will be assigned to the Frog Camp the day after they check into their residence hall.  Just as in previous years, students will meet in small groups led by upper-class students.

Each camp will give students the chance to learn traditions and resources at TCU.  Every camp will have a service experience.  Besides a great time, camp will provide opportunities to make lifelong friendships before classes even start!  Make sure your student doesn’t try to skip-out.  In the almost 30 years of the program, I’ve never heard a camper say, “I hated Frog Camp!”  But of the 20% who did not participate, I have heard numerous times, “The only regret I have about my TCU experience is that I did not attend Frog Camp!”

There will be no large groups.  Students will be required to wear masks and maintain 6-feet of social distancing between themselves and any others.  All rooms in all buildings have an adjusted capacity to accommodate the 6-feet requirement.  All activities have been chosen based on the ability to keep campers as safe as possible.

Speaking of safe choices
: Please have conversations with your student about the importance of making safe choices.  Masks will be required in all spaces on campus except their residence hall rooms.  The CDC continues to report masks are THE BEST way to protect ourselves and each other from the virus.  It is true that younger persons are not at as great a risk as older persons or those with compromised health conditions.  However, a student focused on academic success cannot afford 10, 14, or 21 days feeling too lethargic to read and study for class.

If/When they leave campus, go to Kroger across the street, or a local eating establishment in Fort Worth, they should wear their masks there, as well.  Even if no one else is wearing a mask, your son/daughter may be the only one in the group who doesn’t get sick – because your student heard your message! (Currently, the Texas governor requires all persons MUST wear masks to go ANYWHERE in the state!)

Things will be different
:  I have heard returning and incoming students talk about how they can’t wait to get to campus and do this, that, and the other!  All things that students have done since the beginning of college in America, our students want to do now!  Some of those activities may not have been considered “making good choices” in the first place, but now some of these activities could result in severe illness.

Please help your student re-think what this year or at least this semester may look like. Different is not wrong.  It is just different.   With adjusted expectations fall semester can be AMAZING! As with most circumstances, this semester will generally be what each person expects it to be!

I have a poem I would like to share with you.  I fell in love with it in college.  I have found it speaks of wisdom for a lifetime, and it certainly applies to this fall.

Expect Nothing

Expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.
become a stranger
To need of pity
Or, if compassion by freely
Given out
Take only enough
Stop short of urge to plead
Then purge away the need.

Wish for nothing larger
Than your own small heart
Or greater than a star;
Tame wild disappointment
With caress unmoved and cold
Make of it a parka
For your soul.

Discover the reason why
So tiny human *
Exists at all
So scared unwise
But expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.

Alice Walker

*Underline is mine for emphasis. Full-text version available here:

Finally, as the days draw closer to August 10th (first day of move-in) and August 17th (first day of class), more information will be available.  Some parents have expressed frustration because  TCU communications have not packaged plans for the present/future in a neat bundle with a bow on top (How I wish we could!!!).  There are 6 weeks before classes begin on the 17th.  So much can happen before then.  Please be patient.  Please understand every person responsible for any part of the success of the fall semester is working diligently to prepare a fabulous environment, whether in-person or on-line, for every student to engage in a dynamic, experiential living and learning space!  Trust the process!  Exercise patience!  Breathe . . .

I cannot wait to see you in August!!!

Go Frogs!

Kay Higgins, Ph.D.

Associate Dean, Student Development

Director, Parent & Family Programs